Changing The Akwa Ibom Landscape
04 Jun 2009: Nelson Iyoho
The consistent massive investment in infrastructure which has seen Akpabio administration award contracts for over 550 kilometres of roads across the state is a rare development strategy predicated on the state's chief executive's determination towards taking Akwa Ibom state to greater heights as well as making the state a tourist and investment destination.
In one fell swoop, government has embarked upon the provision of adequate and efficient land, sea and air transportation infrastructure in order to allow for a free-flow of human traffic, movement of goods and services as catalysts to rapid economic development.
In pursuance of its corporate philosophy of making Akwa Ibom State a veritable investment destination, the state government at the beginning of last year, with the inauguration of Governor Akpabio, awarded contract for the construction of a fly-over along Ekim Itam-Ikot Oku Ikono Road to Julius Berger Nigeria Limited. The fly-over on completion would be next to the one in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, thereby making Akwa Ibom the second state in the South South region with such facility. Government had earlier awarded contract for construction of roads covering over 12 local government areas in the state.
The contracts made up of 180 kilometres of roads were those of Nung Udoe Itak-Okoita, Use Ikot Amama and Ibiaku Ikot Esifa roads awarded to Messrs CCSCE Nigeria Limited; Ikot Ntan Mbiokporo-Afaha Offiong, Mbiokporo II-Ikot Edibon-Itreto roads awarded to Messrs Base Engineering Limited and construction of urban roads and streets in Eket Local Government Area to Messrs Berset Technical Service Limited, Messrs Enerco Nigeria Limited and Messrs Emem and Sons Nigeria Limited.
Contracts for the construction of urban roads in Ikot Abasi were awarded to Messrs Wite Cider Company Limited and Messrs XL Engineering Nigeria, while that of urban roads in Oron were awarded to Messrs Enerco Nigeria Limited, Messrs Jojein Ventures Limited and Messrs Ememkon International Limited.
The construction of roads network in Banks and Finacial Institutions Layout and Union Park in Uyo measuring nine kilometres was awarded to Messrs Mothercat Limited. In all these, Governor Akpabio has insisted that there is no cause for celebration until the work was for commissioning.
Governor Akpabio had therefore urged the companies so selected to do their best to complete work on the roads within the timeframe and according to specifications, while pledging government's readiness to closely monitor the work to ensure timely completion for commissioning within his administration's tenure.
The state chief executive to demonstration the level of seriousness and commitment government had invested in those projects, had warned that government would not hesitate to terminate contract in the event of any company not performing to the expectation of the government and people of the state.
"My job is to ensure that Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) is paid to the construction companies when such payment is due. I have directed the officials of the Finance and General Purpose Committee (FGPC) to ensure that at any point in time, the companies involved fail to perform, such construction firms must be made to refund, since the money paid to them were public funds," Governor Akpabio hinted.
He explained that government decided to award contracts for the construction of the selected roads at the appropriate time to enable the companies to prepare adequately for the job and deliver on time for commissioning.
Obviously, the roads for which contracts have been awarded were strategic and traditional especially Itak-Okoita-Use Ikot Amama-Ibiaku Ikot Esifa road which has suffered neglect from previous administrations in the state.
Commenting, the commissioner for work and transports, Mr Don Etim, said the road project contracts were made up of about 86 streets, 180 kilometres of road network awarded to 15 good companies both foreign and indigenous which were carefully selected.
Clearly, the award of contract for the construction of Etebi-Enwang Road which traverses Mbo and Esit Eket Local Government Areas and has the longest bridge measuring two metres, is historic. The state government's road revolution has no bound as the contract for the construction of multiple lane road networks from Ekim Itam Junction to Ikot Oku Ikono Junction, a Federal Government road, is progressing with construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, handling the job. It bears emphasizing the fact that what has rightly come to be seen as road revolution in the state actually started with the previous administration when selected roads spread across the three senatorial districts were constructed.
Perhaps, it is further worth emphasizing at this point that in a bid to consolidating the gains of this road revolution and to ensure that Akwa Ibom people reap practical dividends of democracy in this area, efforts were made by Akpabio's administration to contain erring contractors who may have either compromised on quality delivery and deadlines.
And so, in reading the riot act to contractors, the commissioner for works and transport, Mr Don Etim, had given the warning signal, "Those who do not follow the work programme, specifications and deadline will have their contracts terminated and the people's funds collected" This is why emphasis is so much placed on project monitoring and supervision, a situation that has greatly enhanced respectability and due diligence to the contract terms.
It is also noteworthy that the present administration has within its short time in office committed a reasonable amount to the construction, rehabilitation and erosion control jobs across the three senatorial zones of the state.
Ikot Ekpene, the contracting firm, Stemco Nigeria Limited, has turned the hitherto deplorable state of affairs in the city to a modern one. Residents on Queen Street and Etokebe Street are basking in the ambience of well constructed roads courtesy of the dexterity of the Lebanese-owned construction company to excavate and refill the bad soil with laterite, lime stone base, coal tar and asphalt with covered gutters, thereby bestowing them with a transformed and fully rehabilitated encouragement.
Next on the line was Market Road, followed by Sanni Ogun, Etok Akpan, and Chubb/Essien roads. There are others like Ebu, Etok Eren and Atan roads which have all seen the light of the day.
By end the of last year and with months of meticulous work, Queen, Etokebe, Sanni Ogun, Alderton, Market, Chubb, Etok Akpan roads had all been given new look. With less than a couple of months to finish the job, Stemco has gone far with construction work in Etok Eren and Ebu roads behind the main motor park as well as Atan Road.
Situation report show that Stemco has equally done appreciable work on Adadia, Ito, Umo Obot, Okop Oto and Lutheran roads awaiting final stage, while Metro Road and Cardinal Ekadem Avenue are progressing.
With the level of road construction expertise powered by heavy duty equipment and technically sound engineering personnel, Stemco has so far done top quality job, thereby changing the phase of Ikot Ekpene from a mere old local government headquarters to a modern digital Raffia City with Governor Akpabio's mission of changing the entire landscape of Akwa Ibom for the better.
Today, indigenes and residents of Ikot Ekpene are appreciative to the present administration for the ongoing urban renewal and regeneration effort through massive road construction work, which is learnt, will be complemented by functional street lights and beautification work to give Ikot Ekpene a befitting status as the cradle of third tier government not only in the country but also in the West Africa.
No doubt, Ikot Ekpene is already wearing a new look even as few of the 25 roads earmarked for construction are still untouched. For the project manager of Stemco, Mr Khalil, there is no cause for alarm as he admits that the company is working hard to ensure quality work delivery when the chips are finally down, "Given our current work rate, I'm sure we'll finish before the deadline". Mr Khalil assured.
By the time all the 25 roads might have been completed with covered gutters and solar power street light, Ikot Ekpene would have turned into a modern digital Raffia City and dreams and visions of the past administrations.
It may not have been difficult for Governor Akpabio to concentrate on other infrastructure. But as a man with a deep conviction for the transformation of a civil service state to a private sector driven economy, he has decided to start with the provision of excellent road network as one of the core requirements in meeting the development needs of any society.
Of course, road development is a cardinal policy thrust of Akpabio's administration. About N60 billion has been committed to construction of 550 kilometres of roads across the state. A successful completion of these roads would accelerate the growth of the proposed Ibaka Seaport, Liquified Natural Gas Plant, Ibom Galleria and Ibom International Airport.
Somehow, the road revolution sweeping through major cities in Akwa Ibom has dislodged people in their homes thereby, creating avenues for those shylock landlords to change exorbitantly for the few houses in stock.
Ordinarily, the alignment of roads, which in the thinking of well meaning people should engender rapid economic growth rather than inflict pains on affected citizenry, has become a development with misconception.
Whether cynics believe it or not, housing analyst say the latest road construction work affecting building in the cities, should motivate eagle-eyed investors to launch in and reap dividends as very bright Opportunities exist in the real estate/property sectors of the state economy, insisting that though it is capital intensive, it needs professional guidance to profit from.
With the ongoing infrastructural development in Uyo, the capital city, analysts say, mega estate projects can be finance by the emerging financial service sector, thus the long run, the real estate industry will benefit from a stronger and more robust banking and finance sector in terms of easy access to funs and lower interest rates as well as effective demand for property.
Presently, an average of two bedroom flat in Uyo is charged N200,00 per annum by shylock landlords who capitalize on the inadequate stock of housing in the city, coupled with the demolition exercise in areas where road construction are going on to rip off the helpless house seekers.
Nothing is wrong for the cost a two bedroom flat earlier mention to be within the reach of a civil servants and other depending on the prevailing financial crunch and most importantly, the role of the civil servants in building Uyo to the admiration of all Akwa Ibom people.
Apart from payment of compensation to the affected home losers, government is planning the establishment of housing estates at different locations through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. It is also hoped that estate developers like Bunmi Faluyi Engineering Construction Limited, which has so far made impressive impart in housing delivery in Akwa Ibom and Akwa Savings and Loans Limited, which is strongly repositioned for property development, will continue in their good works to meet the housing needs of the people.
Essentially, the plan of Chief Akapbio-led administration is focused on driving the road network within the entire state, with the vision of supporting the next phase of development, which is industrialization, and it's accompanying high traffic of goods, machines, equipment and manpower.
Government believes that the necessity of a good road system towards sustainable development cannot be over emphasized. It was in line with this vision that the "Operation Zero Port-hole" was commissioned in the early days of assumption of office by governor Akpabio. All the three senatorial districts of the state have benefited from the massive road regeneration. Km. the contract period is stipulated at 18 months.
The major entry into the state via the Itam dualization of Ekim Itam-Itu Road has been in a deplorable condition for a long time. Although a federal government road, this administration has taken up its construction in order to alleviate the sufferings and discomforts of the users of this roads which first and foremost are the indigenes of this state and other operators within the state.
Messr Julius Berger with their vast experience and high quality performance in similar magnitude of road works, have been awarded the contract for the – Ekom Iman Roads spanning a total of 21x2. With the expected increase in vehicular traffic through the Itam Junction, the first flyover is being constructed at this location, together with the dualization of Itam/Uyo/Ikot Ekpene roads.
Other roads that have received the attention of government within the last two years of this administration are: the University of Uyo internal road network the bank estate road network, a total of 9km, construction of commercially viable roads within Uyo metropolis, dualization of Airport Road from Uyo, with the intention of terminating at Oron; a total of 22x2km.